Education and Clerkships

J.D., University of Texas at Austin School of Law, 1990

M.A.T., Colorado College, 1979

B.A., Colorado State University, 1974

Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas





Deborah Coldwell represents franchise and distribution companies - from start-ups with one company-owned location to global brands with more than 10,000 locations.  She has litigated for those companies across several industries – from hotels and restaurants to health clubs and tax preparation services to product and service-based franchise and distribution networks.   Deb uses this experience and knowledge to represent franchisors, distributors, and the individuals who run those companies in jury trials, bench trials and arbitrations.

Deb will help bring a business solution to a dispute when possible and is skilled in representing clients in mediations and other settlement proceedings.  But when litigation is inevitable, she is fully prepared to go to trial or arbitration and to fight for a company and its officers.  She recently litigated a successful six week jury trial in Texas state court for a franchisor in a joint venture dispute.  Nationally-ranked by Chambers USA (2009 – 2014) in the franchise law category, clients describe her as an “outstanding trial lawyer,” “very poised, thoughtful and smart," and as "an especially good advocate."   

Deb loves to organize and motivate teams to accomplish short and long term goals.  To that end, she is the current Chair of the 2000-plus member American Bar Association Forum on Franchising.   She also served the Forum as the editor-in-chief of the Franchise Law Journal and as its publications officer.   Deb channels her love of sports by litigating sports law-related matters and serving as co-chair of Haynes and Boone’s Sports Law Practice Group.

Prior to attending law school, Deb worked in restaurants and taught junior high and college. Deb’s unique background helps her bring a practical approach to problem solving and allows her to assist clients to find an individual workable strategy in each case she handles.  As a skilled and creative trial lawyer, Deb has the experience and flexibility to provide clients with quality representation on a “one-size does not fit all” basis. 


Haynes and Boone Prevails for TGI Fridays™

A team of Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers successfully represented Carrollton, Texas-based TGI Fridays™ in a lawsuit arising over a joint venture dispute involving its restaurants at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Fridays™ currently operates six restaurants at the airport. 

The complete win for Fridays came after three years of litigation that culminated in a five-week Dallas state court jury trial. Jurors found for Fridays on its affirmative claims for relief, allowing for dissolution of the joint venture and recovery on a declaratory judgment action. The company was also accused of breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, tortious interference and conspiracy but prevailed on all of those claims.


Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers in America 2015

Best Lawyers® in America, an annual referral guide listing outstanding attorneys throughout the U.S, has once again recognized Haynes and Boone, LLP lawyers. This year the firm increased its honored practices to 56.

Professional Recognition

  • Recognized by Chambers USA as a nationally recognized franchise lawyer in America (2009-2014)  
  • Nominated by her peers as one of the world's leading franchise practitioners in The International Who's Who of Franchise Lawyers (2004, 2006, 2007, 2011)  
  • Inducted into inaugural Legal Eagles Hall of Fame, Franchise Times, 2013 
  • Included as a Legal Eagle (top 100 franchise lawyers) in Franchise Times (2004-2013)  
  • Selected by her peers in D Magazine as one of the "Best Women Lawyers in Dallas" (2010), and as one of the top lawyers in franchise and distribution law in Dallas (2003-2014).  
  • Selected as a Texas Super Lawyer in Texas Monthly (2003-2014)  
  • Recognized in Best Lawyers for Franchise Law (2007-2015)  
  • Selected as Best Lawyers' 2012 Dallas Franchise Law Lawyer of the Year (2012) 
  • Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™ 

Professional and Community Activities

  • The Grant Halliburton Foundation, Board Member 
  • ABA Forum on Franchising, Chair (2013-2015); Governing Committee Member (2009-2013); Publications Chair (2009-2013); Leadership (2006-2009)  
  • ABA Franchise Law Journal, Editor-in-Chief (2006-2009)
  • State Bar of Texas
  • American Bar Association
  • Dallas Bar Association
  • ABA Forum on Franchising Governing Committee
  • Women's Foodservice Forum (Leadership Development Committee)


AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated

  • Included in the Martindale Hubbell® Law Directory with a Peer Review Rating of AV® Preeminent™.

Recent Litigation

Deb Coldwell

Scoring a Victory for TGI Friday's

A Dallas jury ruled in favor of TGI Friday's regarding a bitter joint venture dispute that the restaurant chain was involved in with one of the three other partners at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. 

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